Washington: Pacific County

Pacific County (pop. 20,920) is in the southwestern corner of Washington. It’s the only Pacific County in the U.S.

Willapa Bay, the second-largest estuary on the U.S. Pacific coast, is a major producer of oysters.

San Francisco Bay is larger.

The county seat of Pacific County is the city of South Bend (pop. 1,637).

Pacific County Courthouse (1909)

Comedian and six-time presidential candidate Pat Paulsen (1927-1997) was born in South Bend.

The largest city in Pacific County is Raymond (pop. 2,886). It reached its peak of population (4,260) in 1920.

Raymond Theatre (1928)

Raymond has a collection of more than 200 metal sculptures scattered along its roads and highways.

The project started in 1993.

West of Raymond, the community of Tokeland is the home of the Tokeland Hotel, the oldest resort hotel in Washington. It opened in 1889.

Bathrooms are down the hall.

The Long Beach Peninsula, which encloses Willapa Bay, has 28 miles of continuous sand beaches. The peninsula, popular with visitors from Seattle and Portland, has several state parks.

Cape Disappointment Light in foreground

The resort city of Long Beach is the home of the World Kite Museum and Marsh’s Free Museum, featuring¬† Jake the Alligator Man.

Made famous in the “Weekly World News”



Washington: Grays Harbor County

Grays Harbor County (pop. 72,797) is south of Jefferson County. It was named for Grays Harbor, the large estuarine bay in the southwestern corner of the county.

Grays Harbor was named for Robert Gray (1755-1806), an American merchant sea captain who pioneered the maritime fur trade in the Northwest and discovered the bay.

He also named the Columbia River.

The county has historically depended on the timber and fishing industries; several of its cities, including Aberdeen and Hoquiam, reached their peak populations in 1930.

Timber crew on the Chehalis River

The county seat of Grays Harbor County is the city of Montesano (pop. 3,976).

Courthouse (1911)

The largest city in the county is Aberdeen (pop. 16,896), located where the Chehalis River empties into Grays Harbor.

Kurt Cobain (1967-1994), leader of the rock band Nirvana, was born in Aberdeen and dropped out of Aberdeen High School late in his senior year.

A concrete guitar in Aberdeen honors Cobain.

Grays Harbor College is a community college in Aberdeen, founded in 1930. The athletic teams are called the Chokers – an old term for the men who wrestled giant logs out of the nearby forests.

Charlie Choker mascot

The Lady Washington, home-ported in Aberdeen, is a replica of an 18th-century merchant sailing ship. Built in 1989, it has been featured in several movies.

Including the first “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie

Just west of Aberdeen is the city of Hoquiam (pop. 8,726). Its 7th Street Theatre is an atmospheric theater built in 1928.

Classic movies and concerts

East of Montesano, the Satsop Nuclear Power Plant was built from 1976 to 1983 but never completed, because of a budget shortfall. The twin cooling towers are a local landmark.

The city of Westport (pop. 2,099), at the entrance to Grays Harbor, has one of the largest marinas in the Northwest. The Grays Harbor Light (1898), at 107 feet, is the tallest lighthouse in Washington.

Farther north, the Copalis State Airport is the only airport in Washington where landing on the beach is legal. The runway is 4,500 feet long.

Only available during low tide

A small part of Olympic National Park is in northern Grays Harbor County. The Lake Quinault Lodge is near the park, in Olympic National Forest.

Built in 1927


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Washington: Jefferson County

Jefferson County (pop. 29,872), south of Clallam County, stretches from the Pacific Ocean to Puget Sound, with the Olympic Mountains in the middle. No roads cross directly from the county’s west side to its east side.

It is one of 25 Jefferson Counties (and one Jefferson parish) in the U.S. – all named, directly or indirectly, for President Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826).

Mount Olympus (elev. 7,980) is the highest point in Olympic National Park. Because of its heavy winter snowfall, it supports several large glaciers – the longest of which is three miles long.

Temperate rainforests in the western part of Olympic National Park have about 150 inches of annual precipitation.

Hoh Rainforest

The county seat of Jefferson County (and its only incorporated city) is Port Townsend (pop. 9,126), on the northeastern tip of the Olympic Peninsula.

Jefferson County Courthouse (1891)

The 75-foot Fire Bell Tower in Port Townsend dates from 1890.

It’s been restored several times.

Fort Worden, in Port Townsend, was built in 1897-1900 as an Army base to protect Puget Sound from enemy invasion. No hostile shots were ever fired.

Manresa Castle, originally a 30-room private home built in 1892, is now a hotel and restaurant.

It was also a Jesuit training center for many years.

The Rose Theatre in Port Townsend opened as a vaudeville theater in 1907. It now shows a variety of independent films.

Port Townsend has an annual film festival.

South of Port Townsend is Fat Smitty’s Restaurant, known for its burgers, outdoor decorations, and dollar bills attached to the ceiling and walls.

Many photo opportunities


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Washington: Clallam County

Clallam County (pop.71,404) is south of Vancouver Island, B.C., on the Olympic Peninsula. “Clallam” is a Native American word meaning “strong people.”

Cape Alava, near Ozette Lake, is the westernmost point in the contiguous 48 states; the community of Ozette is the westernmost town.

Cape Alava

The county seat of Clallam County is the city of Port Angeles (pop. 19,038).

Clallam County Courthouse (1914)

Football great John Elway was born in 1960 in Port Angeles, where his father was coaching football at Port Angeles High School.

The family moved away a year later.

The M/V Coho ferry has been going back and forth between Port Angeles and Victoria, B.C., since 1959. The 20-mile trip takes about 90 minutes.

Olympic Mountains in background

Port Angeles is the headquarters of Olympic National Park, which is in four counties (including Clallam).

Hurricane Ridge Road

The city of Sequim (pop. 6,606), in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains, receives only about 16 inches of rain a year. (Seattle gets about 37 inches.)

“Sunny Sequim”

Near Sequim, on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, is the unincorporated community of Dungeness, which gave its name to the Dungeness crab.

The city of Forks (pop.3,532), west of Port Angeles, receives about 119 inches of rain a year. Forks is the setting for Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” books.

The movies were not filmed in Forks.


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Washington: Island County

Island County (pop. 78,506), southeast of San Juan County, is made up entirely of islands. It is Washington’s second-smallest county in land area, and the only Island County in the U.S.

Whidbey Island, 55 miles long and 1-12 miles wide, is Washington’s largest island and the fourth-largest island in the lower 48 states.

At the northern end of Puget Sound

Whidbey Island is accessible by ferry (from Port Townsend and Mukilteo) and via the Deception Pass Bridge, at the north end of the island.

Deception Pass Bridge (1935)

Deception Pass State Park is the most-visited state park in Washington.

The county seat of Island County is the town of Coupeville (pop. 1,831), the second-oldest town in Washington – founded in 1852 by Captain Thomas Coupe.

Downtown Coupeville

The largest city in Island County is Oak Harbor (pop. 22,075).

Windmill in Windjammer Park, Oak Harbor

Oak Harbor has one of Washington’s five remaining drive-in movie theaters.

Blue Fox Drive-In, open all year

Flintstone Park in Oak Harbor has a replica of Fred Flintstone’s rock car.

Ideal for photos

In the southern part of Whidbey Island, the city of Langley is the home of the Clyde Theatre, built in 1937 by Norman and Hazel Clyde and still operated by the same family.

Still showing movies

Naval Air Station Whidbey Island is in the northern part of the island. It opened in 1942.


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Washington: San Juan County

San Juan County (pop. 15,769) is Washington’s smallest county in land area. It is composed of the 172 named San Juan Islands, plus many more unnamed ones.

The county was named for the islands, which were named for Juan Vicente de Guemes Padilla Horcasitas y Aguayo, 2nd Count of Revillagigedo, who sent an expedition to the area in 1791.

Viceroy of New Spain, 1789-1794

The four largest islands – Orcas, San Juan, Lopez, and Shaw – are served by the Washington State Ferries from Anacortes.

Mount Baker in distance

Friday Harbor (pop. 2,162), on San Juan Island, is the county seat, the commercial center, and the only incorporated city in the county,.

Only about 15 miles by air from Victoria, B.C.

Friday Harbor is the home of the “World’s Skinniest Latte Shop.”

Highly rated on Yelp

Lopez Island, just east of San Juan Island, is flatter and more rural than the other large islands.

Downtown Lopez

On Lopez Island, drivers (and cyclists and pedestrians) traditionally wave at each other at every opportunity.

Spencer Spit State Park is on the east side of Lopez Island.

Popular for camping

Orcas Island is the largest of the San Juans. Mount Constitution (elev. 2,407) is the highest point in the county.

The “Little Red Schoolhouse” on Shaw Island, which serves grades K-8, has been in continuous operation since 1890. A second classroom was added in recent years.


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Washington: Whatcom County

Whatcom County (pop. 201,140) is north of Skagit County and south of British Columbia. Its name was derived from a Native American word meaning “noisy water.”

Whatcom County produces about 75 percent of the nation’s commercial raspberries.

The Northwest Raspberry Festival is in Whatcom County.

Mount Baker (elev. 10,781 feet) is in the eastern part of the county. The Mt. Baker Ski Area had 95 feet of snow in the 1998-99 season.

The most heavily glaciated of Cascade volcanoes.

The county seat of Whatcom County is the city of Bellingham (pop. 80,885), the only city in the lower 48 states that experiences twilight all night during part of the summer.

Flatiron Building (1908)

Western Washington University in Bellingham was founded in 1893 as the New Whatcom Normal School. It has about 15,000 students.

Puget Sound in background

The Mount Baker Theatre (1927) now has a variety of concerts and theatrical performances.

Known locally as the “MBT”

The Whatcom Museum of History and Art is in the former city hall, dating from when Bellingham was called New Whatcom.

Built in 1892

Rocket Donuts in downtown Bellingham has a science-fiction theme and a rocket in the parking lot.

The city of Blaine (pop. 4,831) is on the border with British Columbia. Interstate 5 runs 1,381 miles from Blaine to the Mexican border near San Diego.

The Peace Arch, on the U.S.-Canada border between Blaine and Surrey, B.C., was dedicated in 1921.

In Peace Arch Park

A few miles west of Blaine (by water) is Point Roberts (pop. 1,314), located at the southern tip of the Tsawwassen Peninsula. To reach Point Roberts by land, one must go 26 miles through Canada.


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Washington: Skagit County

Skagit County (pop. 116,901) is north of Snohomish County. Pronounced “SKAD-jit,” it was named for the Skagit tribe, who have lived in the area for many years.

Skagit County in 1909

The 150-mile Skagit River runs westward through the county, flowing into Puget Sound.

The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, which takes place throughout April, is one of the largest festivals in the Northwest.

In its 32nd year

The county seat of Skagit County is the city of Mount Vernon (pop. 31,243).

Skagit County Courthouse (1924)

The Lincoln Theatre (1926) in Mount Vernon has a mixture of live events and movies.

The theater still has its original Wurlitzer organ.

The Lenning Farms Berry Barn claims to have the largest hedge maze in North America.

More than 2,500 trees

In the city of Burlington (pop. 8,388), just north of Mount Vernon, His Place Community Church has a children’s church building shaped like Noah’s Ark.

Built in 1988

The city of Anacortes (pop. 15,778), on Fidalgo Island, has ferry service to the San Juan Islands, Vancouver Island, and nearby Guemes Island.

Vehicles waiting to board the ferries

The “Lady of the Sea” statue in Anacortes shows a woman and child waiting for the return of their loved ones.

At Cap Sante Marina

East of Mount Vernon is the town of Concrete (pop. 705), which got its name because of the two cement companies in town. A building at Concrete High School (1952) has a road going under it.

There’s a bus-loading area.

Nearby, the unincorporated community of Rockport has a “Self-Kicking Machine” at a service station along State Route 20.


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